It’s not uncommon to hear people say things like ‘the state has a duty to educate children’. But this strikes me as backwards. To see why, consider the striking correspondence between the words of the 2nd Amendment in the federal constitution, and the words of Article 83 in the New Hampshire Constitution.
In the 2nd Amendment we find this:
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,
In Article 83, we find this:
Knowledge and learning, generally diffused through a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government,
But the 2nd Amendment isn’t about a duty that a free State owes its citizens. Rather, it’s about what citizens need to do (arm themselves) if they want to keep a free State.
That is, it’s not the responsibility of a free State to provide citizens with guns and ammunition and training. It’s the responsibility of citizens to arm and train themselves.
In exactly the same way, Article 83 isn’t about a duty that a free government owes its citizens. Rather, it’s about what citizens need to do (educate themselves) if they want to keep a free government.
That is, it’s not the responsibility of a free government to provide citizens with teachers and books (to say nothing of transportation and therapy and meals and day care and support for hobbies and everything else that has been shoved under the umbrella of ‘school’). It’s the responsibility of citizens to educate themselves.
If there’s a ‘duty’ involved in education, it’s the duty of all people to become educated, not the duty of some people to educate others.
Treating education as an entitlement leads directly to what we’re seeing now. Treating it as a responsibility would lead to something very different. Maybe it’s time to give that a try.